2021 Charles Schwab Challenge Final Round Buys & Fades: Jason Kokrak Headlines 3 Buys Entering Sunday

2021 Charles Schwab Challenge Final Round Buys & Fades: Jason Kokrak Headlines 3 Buys Entering Sunday article feature image
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Tom Pennington/Getty Images. Pictured: Jason Kokrak.

Jason Kokrak and Jordan Spieth started the Charles Schwab Challenge by playing a step above the rest of the field through two days, and they certainly continued that trend on Saturday.

The final pairing separated themselves further from the rest of the field, both shooting a 4-under 66, with Spieth birdieing his final hole to maintain his one-shot lead into the final round.

Only Sergio Garcia of the final tee times was able to post an under-par round, but his 2-under 68 has him five back of the lead going into Sunday. He’s another two shots ahead of the players in a tie for fourth. One of those two players is Ian Poulter, who posted the round of the day with a 6-under 64 to get himself a late afternoon tee time for the final round.

It appears to be a two-horse race at Colonial Country Club, though the books are taking a pretty firm stance with Spieth around -250, going into the final round.  I’ll look to make a pick on the winner, but also to see if we can find some value for final-round DFS play and matchups heading into Sunday.

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Strokes Gained Explanation

Strokes Gained can give golf bettors, DFS players and fans way more detail on how a golfer is truly playing by measuring each shot in relation to the rest of the field.

Using the millions of data points it collects, the TOUR calculates how many shots on average it takes a player to get the ball in the hole from every distance and situation. If a player beats those averages, he’s gaining strokes on the field.

Every situation in golf is different — Strokes Gained measures how players perform relative to the situation.

In this piece, we’ll touch on a variety of Strokes Gained metrics…

  • Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
  • Strokes Gained: Approach
  • Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green
  • Strokes Gained: Putting
  • Strokes Gained: Ball-Striking (which is Off-the-Tee + Approach)
  • Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green (which is Ball-Striking + Around-the-Green)

In general, ball-striking and tee-to-green are the most stable long term, while putting is more prone to volatility.

You can often find live-betting advantages by identifying golfers who are hitting the ball well, but just not getting putts to drop. Likewise, players with high SG: Putting numbers may regress moving forward.

3 Golfers to Buy in Round 4

It’s really going to be disappointing for whoever falls short tomorrow between Kokrak and Spieth, both of whom have been outstanding this week. They really couldn’t be playing much better and have fully separated themselves from the rest of the field at Colonial.

Kokrak is leading the field in strokes gained tee to green, ranks second in strokes gained approach and off the tee and sixth in strokes gained putting. He is losing a little bit to the field around the greens but outside of that, he’s been fantastic.

Spieth is gaining strokes on the field in every metric this week. He is the best putter in the field through 54 holes, ranks 10 in approach, and fourth tee to green. These are two players dialed in throughout their bags, but someone will be left disappointed.

I’m unlikely to play either side, and there’s just no value on Spieth. From a numbers perspective, Kokrak has every chance to win this thing, so my money would go on him at +230 at PointsBet. I think the real opportunity in betting markets is to watch and try to bet it live if you see a good opportunity after an early swing.

[Bet Jason Kokrak at PointsBet.]

If I am looking to buy someone to move their way into the top five or even battle with Garcia for third, it’s Patton Kizzire. He’s a player that runs hot or cold with his form, but when he’s on he typically holds it throughout the week.

The big thing for Kizzire is keeping it in play off the tee, allowing him to use the strength of his iron game and putter to carry him to a high finish. He’s been able to do that around Colonial this week, gaining strokes off the tee throughout, ranks sixth so far on the week on approach, but it was the putter that failed him on Saturday. He lost more than three strokes on the greens in the third round, which is an anomaly for the player ranked 14th in strokes gained putting this season.

Kizzire won’t have the pressure of trying to win, allowing the Georgia Bulldog to swing freely to make a move for a high finish on Sunday.

[Bet Patrick Reed at FanDuel and get a $1,000 risk-free bet.]

Another player who looks like he could continue to move up the leaderboard on Sunday is Harold Varner III. He started the week with an ugly 4-over 74 but went 10 shots better on Friday to get inside of the cutline. Varner continued to build on that strong play on Saturday with a 3-under 67 to get to 5-under for the week and into a tie for 17th.

He was second in the field tee to green in the third round, registering strong numbers in each category. As is often the case, Varner struggled a bit with the putter, and he’s been consistently losing about a half stroke on the greens each round this week. If he can find a little bit more with the flat stick on Sunday, and keep the sharp ball striking he’s developed over the past two rounds, he has the potential to be a mover.

Varner is just one shot from the top 10 as it stands now and three from the top five, which he could reach if he can really put something together in the final round.

[Bet Harold Varner III at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

3 Golfers to Fade in Round 3

I was non-committal to the Sebastian Munoz fade yesterday but now that he appears fully out of the running for the win, I am ready to put it in. He started slowly in Saturday’s third round and really had to scramble to save an even-par day.

Munoz lost strokes in both ball-striking metrics on Saturday and needed his putter to save par time and again. He made just two birdies during the round, which were matched by two bogeys, and the signs are there that his sharp ball striking from the start of the week is beginning to fade. I’ll be avoiding him on Sunday in all markets, and targeting the Colombian in matchups.

My last two fades are doubling back on a couple that I put in during earlier rounds.

The first one is a play I don’t want to fade because there will be no one I’ll root harder for on Sunday than Erik Compton. The story of what he has dealt with in life and overcame to put himself in a position of a tie for sixth into the final round of a PGA Tournament is remarkable.

The issue is that it’s hard to see him being able to hold his game in form during the final round with so much on the line. He just hasn’t been in this position, and the game has been held together by a magical putter throughout the week. I hope I’m wrong here, but Compton looks like a fade for Sunday.

Adam Hadwin is the last fade of the week for me, as the Canadian continues to hang on to a spot near the top of the leaderboard despite some ugly numbers tee to green. He lost more than two strokes to the field ball striking on Saturday and nearly a stroke and a half tee to green during the round.

Hadwin is gaining about two strokes per round with his short game this week and while that could certainly hold true for another 18, I’m willing to take my chances that it tails off. His game will become especially shaky if the winds pick up again on Sunday.

Strokes Gained Data for All Players in Round 4

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